Marine Pollution

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Marine Pollution

Marine pollution is caused by human activities on land. About 80 per cent of all marine pollution is caused by human activities on land. Activities such as sewage disposal in rivers and the coastalecosystem; inadequately treated waters from industries; discharges of nutrients of phosphorus and nitrogen used in agriculture, and finally, heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants. By the year 2000, 75 per cent of the world’s population live within 60 km of the coast.

Background

Numerous global and regional conventions and events relate to the protection of the marine environment, such as:

1976 To present: the Regional Seas Conventions and related Protocols, which govern 15 Regional Seas Programmes;
1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS);
1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal;
1992 Convention on Biological Diversity;
1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change;
1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and Agenda 21. In 1982, UNEP started addressing issues related to impacts on the marine environment from land-based activities, resulting in the following conventions and decisions:
1985 Montreal Guidelines for the Protection of the Marine Environment Against Pollution from Land-based Sources;
1995 UNEP Governing Council decisions 18/31 and 18/32 pertaining to the Washington Conference and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs);
1995 Conference to adopt a Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities, Washington, D.C., 23 October – 3 November 1995.

The Washington Conference

Adopted the Washington Declaration on Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities
By adopting the Washington Declaration, more than 100 governments, and the European Commission, declared their commitment to protect and preserve the marine environment from the adverse environmental impacts of land-based activities.
They called upon UNEP, the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the regional Development Banks, and all agencies within the United Nations system, to support and strengthen the regional structures in place for the protection of the marine environment.
They called upon UNEP, in close partnership with UNDP, the World Health Organization, Habitat, and other relevant organizations, to act as the Secretariat of the Global Programme of Action.

Adopted a Global Programme of Action (GPA) for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities

The GPA is designed to be a source of conceptual and practical guidance to be drawn upon by national and/or regional authorities in devising and implementing sustained action to prevent, reduce, control and/or eliminate marine degradation from land-based activities. See below.

Marine Pollution Agreements

Global Program of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (GPA)

Overview

The GPA aims at preventing the degradation of the marine environment from land-based activities by facilitating the realization of the duty of States to preserve and protect the marine environment. For more information, see the Global Program of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities.

Washington Declaration on Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (1995)

The representatives of Governments and the European Commission participating in the Conference held in Washington from 23 October to 3 November 1995, Affirming the need and will to protect and preserve the marine environment for present and future generations,
Reaffirming the relevant provisions of chapters 17, 33 and 34 of Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development,

Recognizing the interdependence of human populations and the coastal and marine environment, and the growing and serious threat from land-based activities, to both human health and well-being and the integrity of coastal and marine ecosystems and biodiversity,

Further recognizing the importance of integrated coastal area management and the catchment-area-based approach as means of coordinating programmes aimed at preventing marine degradation from land-based activities with economic and social development programmes,

Also recognizingthat the alleviation of poverty is an essential factor in addressing the impacts of land-based activities on coastal and marine areas,

Notingthat there are major differences among the different regions of the world, and the States which they comprise, in terms of environmental, economic and social conditions and level of development which will lead to different judgments on priorities in addressing problems related to the degradation of the marine environment by land-based activities,

Acknowledgingthe need to involve major groups in national, regional and international activities to address degradation of the marine environment by land-based activities,

Strongly supporting the processes set forth in decisions 18/31 and 18/32 of 25 May 1995 of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme for addressing at the global level the priority issues of persistent organic pollutants and adequate treatment of waste water,

Having thereforeadopted the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities,

Hereby declare their commitment to protect and preserve the marine environment from the impacts of land-based activities, and

Declare their intention to do so by: 1. Setting as their common goal sustained and effective action to deal with all land-based impacts upon the marine environment, specifically those resulting from sewage, persistent organic pollutants, radioactive substances, heavy metals, oils (hydrocarbons), nutrients, sediment mobilization, litter, and physical alteration and destruction of habitat;

2. Developing or reviewing national action programmes within a few years on the basis of national priorities and strategies;

3. Taking forward action to implement these programmes in accordance with national capacities and priorities;

4. Cooperating to build capacities and mobilize resources for the development and implementation of such programmes, in particular for developing countries, especially the least developed countries, countries with economies in transition and small island developing States (hereinafter referred to as “countries in need of assistance”);

5. Taking immediate preventive and remedial action, wherever possible, using existing knowledge, resources, plans and processes;

6. Promoting access to cleaner technologies, knowledge and expertise to address land-based activities that degrade the marine environment, in particular for countries in need of assistance;

7. Cooperating on a regional basis to coordinate efforts for maximum efficiency and to facilitate action at the national level, including, where appropriate, becoming parties to and strengthening regional cooperative agreements and creating new agreements where necessary;

8. Encouraging cooperative and collaborative action and partnerships, among governmental institutions and organizations, communities, the private sector and non-governmental organizations which have relevant responsibilities and/or experience;

9. Encouraging and/or making available external financing, given that funding from domestic sources and mechanisms for the implementation of the Global Programme of Action by countries in need of assistance may be insufficient;

10. Promoting the full range of available management tools and financing options in implementing national or regional programmes of action, including innovative managerial and financial techniques, while recognizing the differences between countries in need of assistance and developed States;

11. Urging national and international institutions and the private sector, bilateral donors and multilateral funding agencies to accord priority to projects within national and regional programmes to implement the Global Programme of Action and encouraging the Global Environment Facility to support these projects;

12. Calling upon the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank, the regional development banks, as well as the agencies within the United Nations system to ensure that their programmes support (through, inter alia, financial cooperation, capacity-building and institutional-strengthening mechanisms) the regional structures in place for the protection of the marine environment;

13. According priority to implementation of the Global Programme of Action within the United Nations system, as well as in other global and regional institutions and organizations with responsibilities and capabilities for addressing marine degradation from land-based activities, and specifically:

Securing formal endorsement of those parts of the Global Programme of Action that are relevant to such institutions and organizations and incorporating the relevant provisions into their work programmes;
Establishing a clearing-house mechanism to provide decision makers in all States with direct access to relevant sources of information, practical experience and scientific and technical expertise and to facilitate effective scientific, technical and financial cooperation as well as capacity-building; and
Providing for periodic intergovernmental review of the Global Programme of Action, taking into account regular assessments of the state of the marine environment;
14. Promoting action to deal with the consequences of sea-based activities, such as shipping, offshore activities and ocean dumping, which require national and/or regional actions on land, including establishing adequate reception and recycling facilities;

15. Giving priority to the treatment and management of waste water and industrial effluents, as part of the overall management of water resources, especially through the installation of environmentally and economically appropriate sewage systems, including studying mechanisms to channel additional resources for this purpose expeditiously to countries in need of assistance;

16. Requesting the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, in close partnership with the World Health Organization, the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), the United Nations Development Programme and other relevant organizations, to prepare proposals for a plan to address the global nature of the problem of inadequate management and treatment of waste water and its consequences for human health and the environment, and to promote the transfer of appropriate and affordable technology drawn from the best available techniques;

17. Acting to develop, in accordance with the provisions of the Global Programme of Action, a global, legally binding instrument for the reduction and/or elimination of emissions, discharges and, where appropriate, the elimination of the manufacture and use of the persistent organic pollutants identified in decision 18/32 of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme. The nature of the obligations undertaken must be developed recognizing the special circumstances of countries in need of assistance. Particular attention should be devoted to the potential need for the continued use of certain persistent organic pollutants to safeguard human health, sustain food production and to alleviate poverty in the absence of alternatives and the difficulty of acquiring substitutes and transferring of technology for the development and/or production of those substitutes; and

18. Elaborating the steps relating to institutional follow-up, including the clearing-house mechanism, in a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly at its fifty-first session, and in that regard, States should coordinate with the United Nations Environment Programme, as secretariat of the Global Programme of Action, and other relevant agencies within the United Nations system in the development of the resolution and include it on the agenda of the Commission on Sustainable Development at its inter- sessional meeting in February 1996 and its session in April 1996.

Washington, D.C., 1 November 1995

United Nations, Report of the Economic and Social Council, Institutional arrangements for the implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (1996)

By its resolution 1996/1 of 11 July 1996, the Economic and Social Council recommended to the General Assembly the adoption of a draft resolution entitled “Institutional arrangements for the implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities”. The text of the draft resolution is reproduced below.

“Institutional arrangements for the implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities
“The General Assembly,

“Recalling the relevant provisions of Agenda 21, 1/ in particular chapters 17, 33, 34, 38 and other related chapters, and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 2/

________________________

l/ Report of the United Nations conference on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992, vol. I, Resolutions Adopted by the Conference (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.93.I.8 and corrigendum), resolution 1, annex II.

2/ Ibid., annex I. _

_______________________

“Recalling also its resolution 50/110 of 20 December 1995 on the report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme, in which it endorsed, inter alia, Governing Council decision 18/31 on the protection of the marine environment from land-based activities,

“Noting the successful conclusion of the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt a Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities, which was held in Washington, D.C., from 23 October to 3 November 1995,

“Having considered the Washington Declaration on Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities 3/ and the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities, 4/ as well as the proposal of the United Nations Environment Programme on institutional arrangements and implementation of the Global Programme of Action and relevant recommendations of the Commission on Sustainable Development,

“1. Endorses the Washington Declaration on Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities and the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities;
“2. Stresses the need for States to take the necessary measures for the implementation of the Global Programme of Action at the national and, as appropriate, the regional and international levels;

“3. Also stresses the need for States to take action for the formal endorsement by each competent international organization of those parts of the Global Programme of Action that are relevant to their mandates and to accord appropriate priority to the implementation of the Global Programme of Action in the work programme of each organization;

“4. Further stresses the need for States to take such action at the next meetings of the governing bodies of the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the International Maritime Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the International Labour Organization and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and in the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the relevant bodies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, as well as in other competent international and regional organizations within and outside the United Nations system;

________________________

3/ A/51/116, annex I, appendix II.

4/ Ibid., annex II.

________________________

“5. Further stresses the need for international cooperation, as outlined in sections IV.A and B of the Global Programme of Action, in capacity-building, technology transfer and cooperation, and the mobilization of financial resources, including support, in particular for developing countries, especially the least developed countries, countries with economies in transition and small island developing States, and to this end calls upon bilateral donors and international, regional and subregional financial institutions and mechanisms, including the Global Environment Facility, and other competent development and financial institutions to:
“(a) Ensure that their programmes give appropriate priority for country-driven projects aimed at the implementation of the Global Programme of Action;

“(b) Assist with capacity-building in the preparation and implementation of national programmes and in identifying ways and means of funding them;

“(c) Improve their coordination so as to enhance the delivery of financial and other support;

“6. Invites non-governmental organizations and major groups to initiate and strengthen their actions to facilitate and support the effective implementation of the Global Programme of Action;

“7. Requests the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme to prepare, for the consideration of the Governing Council at its nineteenth session, specific proposals on:

“(a) The role of the United Nations Environment Programme in the implementation of the Global Programme of Action, including the relevant role of its Regional Seas Programme and Freshwater Unit;

“(b) Arrangements for secretariat support to the Global Programme of Action;

“(c) Modalities for periodic intergovernmental review of progress in implementing the Global Programme of Action;

“8. Calls upon the United Nations Environment Programme, within its available resources, and with the aid of voluntary contributions from States for this purpose, to take expeditious action to provide for the establishment and implementation of the clearing-house mechanism referred to in the Global Programme of Action, and requests the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme to prepare and submit to the Governing Council at its nineteenth session specific proposals on, inter alia:

“(a) The establishment of an inter-organizational group to develop the basic design and structure of the clearing-house data directory and its linkages to information delivery mechanisms;

“(b) The means of linking the inter-organizational group to ongoing work within the United Nations system on the identification of and access to relevant databases and the comparability of data;

“(c) The outline of a pilot project on the development of the clearing-house’s source category component on sewage, to be implemented in partnership with the World Health Organization;

“9. Calls uponStates, in relation to the clearing-house mechanism, to take action in the governing bodies of relevant intergovernmental organizations and programmes so as to ensure that these organizations and programmes take the lead in coordinating the development of the clearing-house mechanism with respect to the following source categories, which are listed in conjunction with the relevant organization(s) and/or programme(s) but not in order of priority:

“(a) Sewage – the World Health Organization;

“(b) Persistent organic pollutants – the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals, the International Programme on Chemical Safety and the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety;

“(c) Heavy metals – the United Nations Environment Programme in cooperation with the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals;

“(d) Radioactive substances – the International Atomic Energy Agency;

“(e) Nutrients and sediment mobilization – the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations;

“(f) Oils (hydrocarbons) and litter – the International Maritime Organization;

“(g) Physical alterations, including habitat modification and destruction of areas of concern – the United Nations Environment Programme;

“10. Decides to determine, at its special session to be held in June 1997 in accordance with its resolution 50/113 of 20 December 1995, specific arrangements for integrating the outcomes of periodic intergovernmental reviews, as envisaged in paragraph 7 (c) above, in the future work of the Commission on Sustainable Development related to the monitoring of the implementation of and follow-up to Agenda 21, in particular chapter 17.”

Global Programme of Action for the Protection of The Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (1997)

Atlantic Ocean

This includes:
Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR Convention) (1992)
Sintra Statement of Ministers (1998)

Baltic Sea

Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area (1992) (HELCOM)

Black Sea

Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution (1992)

This includes:

Protocol on the Protection of the Black Sea Marine Environment Against Pollution by Dumping (1992)
Protocol on Protection of The Black Sea Marine Environment Against Pollution from Land Based Sources(1994)
Protocol on Cooperation in Combating Pollution of the Black Sea MarineEnvironment by Oil and Other Harmful Substances in Emergency Situations (1994)

Ministerial Declaration on the Protection of the Black Sea (1993)

Strategic Action Plan for the Rehabilitation and Protection of the Black Sea (1996)

Danube River

This includes:
Environmental Programme For The Danube River Basin Strategic Action Plan For The Danube River Basin (1995-2000)
Declaration on the Co-Operation for the Creation of a Lower Danube Green Corridor (2000)(PDF file)

European Union

Decision No. 2850/2000/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council Setting Up a Community Framework for Cooperation in the Field of Accidental or Deliberate Marine Pollution (2000)

Mediterranean Sea

This includes:
Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution (1976) and Protocols (1980, 1982) (Barcelona Convention)
Protocol Concerning Mediterranean Specially Protected Areas (1982)
Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (1995)
Action Plan for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Sustainable Development of the Coastal Areas of the Mediterranean (MAP Phase II) (1995)
Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean (1995)
RAMOGE Agreement (1976)

Other

Arctic Council, Regional Programme of Action for the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities
Draft Report – Conservation of marine habitats and species in Europe (1999) (PDF file)
Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (1983)

Marine Pollution

Embracing mainstream international law, this section on marine pollution explores the context, history and effect of the area of the law covered here.

D. Anton, J. Kohout and N. Pain, in “Nationalizing Environmental Protection in Australia: The International Dimensions” (1993), wrote:

“Marine pollution is another threat to the global commons and has substantial impacts within territorial waters. Dumping of waste in the oceans has been recognized as an international problem since at least 1926 when an international conference in the United States elaborated provisions for an unsuccessful treaty to limit the discharge of oil and gas into the sea. It was not until 1954, however, that the international community put its first convention to protect the marine environment into effect.[ International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil (London), 327 U.N.T.S. 3] (…)

The International Maritime Organization drafted two conventions for this purpose in 1969. One imposed civil liability for oil pollution damage,[ International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage Nov. 29, 1969, Brussels, 973 U.N.T.S. 3] and the other related to intervention on the high seas in cases of oil pollution casualties.[International Convention Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties, Nov. 29, 1969, 9 I.L.M. 25 (1970)]

The dumping of wastes in the oceans was recognized as an international problem in the 1972 London Dumping Convention.[Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution and the Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, Mar. 13, 1975, 26 U.S.T. 2403] This treaty prohibits the deliberate disposal of dangerous wastes, including plastics and other persistent synthetic materials, that float or remain suspended in marine waters. For less harmful substances, a license must be obtained. The purpose of the Convention is “to promote effective control of all sources of marine pollution.” Additionally, the Convention seeks to prevent “ocean pollution caused by dumping of waste and other matter that may create hazards to human health, impact on living marine resources, damage amenities, or hinder legitimate uses of the sea.”[Paul E. Hagen, The International Community Confronts Plastics Pollution from Ships: MARPOL Annex V and the Problem That Won’t Go Away, 5 Am. U J. INT’L L. & POL Y 425, 445 (1990) The Convention accomplishes this by providing nation-states with the authority to regulate the deliberate ocean-dumping of marine wastes. The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) “seeks to eliminate intentional pollution of the marine environment with oil and other harmful substances and to minimize the accidental discharge of such substances.”[Paul E. Hagen, The International Community Confronts Plastics Pollution from Ships: MARPOL Annex V and the Problem That Won’t Go Away, 5 Am. U J. INT’L L. & POL Y 425, 44 (1990)]”.

Resources

See Also

  • Transport
  • Transportation Means
  • Transport Law
  • Transport Contract

Resources

Further Reading

  • The entry “marine pollution” in the Parry and Grant Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law (currently, the Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law, 2009), Oxford University Press

Hierarchical Display of Marine pollution

Environment > Deterioration of the environment > Pollution > Water pollution
Law > International law > Public international law > Law of the sea
Environment > Environmental policy > Waste management > Waste disposal > Dumping of waste
Environment > Natural environment > Geophysical environment > Sea
Environment > Natural environment > Geophysical environment > Ocean

Marine pollution

Concept of Marine pollution

See the dictionary definition of Marine pollution.

Characteristics of Marine pollution

Resources

Translation of Marine pollution

Thesaurus of Marine pollution

Environment > Deterioration of the environment > Pollution > Water pollution > Marine pollution
Law > International law > Public international law > Law of the sea > Marine pollution
Environment > Environmental policy > Waste management > Waste disposal > Dumping of waste > Marine pollution
Environment > Natural environment > Geophysical environment > Sea > Marine pollution
Environment > Natural environment > Geophysical environment > Ocean > Marine pollution

See also

  • Disposal of waste at sea
  • Pollution of the seas

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